NIGERIAN JACITAD CALLS FOR HARMONIZATION OF IT BILLS

Computing

The Joint Action Committee for IT Awareness and Development (JACITAD has called for a harmonization of the two IT related bills now before the Senate. The two bills are the National Information Technology bill and another one by Senator Iya Abubakar. JACITAD says that it believes that the two bills contained useful provisions, which would see the progress and development of IT in the country.

At the Senate hearing on the Iya Abubakar bill a fortnight ago, JACITAD's President Biyi Fashoyin, congratulated the senate committee for its several attempts to see that Information Technology development in the country was given a legal backing but noted that there was a seeming attempt by the compilers of the bill to copy some of the clauses of the legal framework, verbatim from a foreign environment. This he said, had the unfortunate ability to place the industry on a dangerous path of erroneously adopting foreign Acts which may not tally with the visions of the country's IT developmental strategies.

According to Fashoyin, "JACITAD finds all the provisions of the document, very useful for the development, growth and stability of the Nigerian Information Technology industry, and therefore recommends that : one: The National IT Commission and its development fund, be established first, upon which the successes and failures could help the modification of the legal framework, even while it is being debated in the National Assembly.

Two: Clauses 1 to 48, should form the ingredients for a new national policy that NITDA or the commission as the case may be, including other relevant stakeholders should project and promote, upon reviewing the IT policy.

Three: The other policies that require the force of law, can in their own capacity, form and be introduced as a new legislation in the Nigerian IT sector . JACITAD also proposed an Information Technology Commission of a developmental and Regulatory status, with relevant powers to discharge its duties and deliver industry dividends, arguing that the development of the Nigerian IT sector was still at the infant level and therefore, needed a regulatory body that can regulate its growth effectively to its advanced level.

The high point of the exercise was when Fashoyin stood firm to disagree with section 51(4) of the bill, saying "JACITAD totally disagrees with this clause in proposing that the (DG) shall be a member of Computer

Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN). We believe that membership of CPN should not be a criteria to effectively running a National Information Technology Commission. In JACITAD's view, the entire clause itself, based on the sagacity of its provisions, tends to exclude very qualified, capable men and women with excellent managerial skills, under the age of 40 and 45 years. And considering that Information Technology is for the future, if the clause passes with such provisions, it portends the grave danger of shutting out dynamic young men who are abreast with the current trends in the global IT development. For example, experience has shown that all over the world, thriving IT businesses and organisations are run by young and dynamic youths who are not even up to 45 years of age. The Bill Gates, Michael Dells of this world are perfect examples. Even in the Nigerian scene, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Computer Warehouse Group and a lot of others are successful business or ganisations run by young Nigerians who can also bring their wealth of experiences to bear in a commission such as is being proposed. To a very large extent, if the bill goes with such barriers, experts like Nigeria's Philip Emeagwali, may not be qualified to head the commission so being proposed and it could be nothing less than an unfortunate irony. We therefore recommend that anyone who has good managerial ability, with proven track record and good level of experience in the Information Technology sector, can be considered."

Vanguard